LOS ANGELES – In prison, inmates lose many freedoms, and in California another one just went up in smoke.
The California Department of Corrections (search) has banned cigarette smoking indoors and outdoors for both inmates and employees. The Department of Corrections hopes this move will cut health care costs by hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
"It just helps reduce the risk of secondhand smoking, helps reduce the risk of tobacco illness not just for employees, but for inmates as well," said Lt. Ken Lewis (search), spokesman for the California State Prison, Los Angeles County.
But the ban may not get rid of all tobacco products in California prisons. A black market for chewing tobacco has already emerged. Tins that normally cost $11 can run as much as $200 on the cellblock.
"It's real, real expensive, and that's about as far as I can go with that," said Thomas Hernandez, a prison inmate.
Some are concerned that the ban could cause another problem — an increase in violence. When smoking was banned in Maine prisons, it led to a 400 percent increase in assaults. That spurred Vermont and New York to ease up on their anti-tobacco policies.
But so far, said Lewis, "We have not seen an increase in violence at this prison or throughout the state regarding the smoking ban.
"A lot of inmates have adapted to it very well, they have accepted it very well."
California prison officials are pleased with the program's performance up to this point; however, the new policies were just enacted less than a month ago.
"It just feels like a healthier, cleaner environment," said Lewis.
Click in the box near the top of the story to watch a report by FOX News' Anita Vogel.